Scientists Look at Climate Change for PA

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)  has released an update to their report detailing the effects of climate change impacts on Pennsylvania weather, natural environment and industry. Climate Impacts scientist Dr. Melanie Fitzpatrick presented the broad strokes in a press conference Wednesday held at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

“Scientists across the country are calling for reductions in heat-trapping emissions,” said Fitzpatrick, whose work is focused on the Northeast. She asked that Pennsylvanians consider the consequences of current policies by looking ahead to two different future scenarios, a high-emissions future and a future in which emissions have been drastically cut. A future based on an evolution to alternative energies with drastic reductions in the use of fossil-fuel based energy.

“The choices we make in just the next several years will effect the world our children will grow up in,” said Fitzpatrick, “If we do not significantly curtail our heat-trapping emissions, the research shows that by late this century, summer temps in PA could exceed 90 degrees daily in southern parts of the state, economically important trees species will decline sharply and state farmers could suffer major losses.” Some of the bleaker predictions include the risk of salt water creeping into Philadelphia drinking water supply as sea levels rise, the loss of the Black Cherry tree, which provides wood for furniture, and other tree species which provide fall colors, and the loss of native brook trout and smallmouth bass freshwater fish species. Snowfall in Pennsylvania is expected to disappear across most of the state within the next century as a result of the momentum of global warming trends. Fitzpatrick described a considerably rosier view if emissions were brought under control, with half the number of hot days and a better chance for farmers to adapt.

In their statement, USC drew attention to the impact of the state’s coal-fired power plants, calling for a ban on the construction of new facilities. “The state is important because it exports energy to nearby states and is a surprisingly large source of heat-trapping emissions,” said Fitzpatrick in her statement, “It’s the third-highest emitting state in the United States and emits more than most countries.” Pennsylvania is responsible for 1% of global emissions.

Pennsylvania has also made great strides to provide incentives to alternative energy companies to build their businesses in the state. Pennsylvania Environmental Council Southeast Region Vice President Patrick Starr talked about HB2200 (the “Energy Savings Bill”) now under consideration, which would expand state energy conservation efforts, require utilities to reduce peak demand over a period of years and provide consumers with a ‘smart meter’, to significantly lower energy usage and provide savings. Currently the Senate version seeks to shift more of the responsibility for reductions to the consumer. has organized a campaign to stop the Senate version from being weakened .

2008-10-01 11:32:46


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